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UCD Athena SWAN Institutional Application 2020

University College Dublin has received its second Athena SWAN Bronze institutional award in recognition of the university’s work towards gender equality. To achieve this accreditation, an institution must demonstrate that it has undertaken a thorough self-assessment of gender equality challenges and has developed a detailed action plan to tackle them.  The UCD  was prepared by the Gender Equality Action Group and its Working Groups, in a process that involved external benchmarking, an EDI employee survey, focus groups and consultation across the university.  It includes actions relating to recruitment, promotions, leadership, work practices, organisation and culture.  The implementation of the Plan is already underway, and includes mechanisms to track progress on each of the actions.  It will be updated to include the actions that arise from the review currently underway of the university’s policy and procedures on Dignity and Respect.

Logo for the athena swan award

Post May 2015 Process

In May 2015, a new expanded process Athena SWAN application process was established. The main additions under the expanded process include:

  • Inclusion of additional data on Professional and Support Staff
  • Comparison of data between STEMM  areas (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, Medicine) and AHSSBL areas (Arts, Humanities, Social Sciences, Business, Law)
  • Inclusion of trans staff and students
  • Consideration of intersectionality (between gender and ethnicity)

Institutional Application 2020 Project 

The Athena SWAN institutional bronze application process involved the following:

  • Undertake data analysis
  • Roll out University-wide consultation by means of a survey and focus groups
  • Draft the application
  • Develop a Gender Equality Action Plan for 2020-2024 with realistic actions and targets
  • Consider the recommendations from the report published by the Gender Equality Taskforce led by Minister for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O'Connor and published in November 2018

Governance of Application Process

The Gender Equality Action Group, chaired by Professor Orla Feely, act as the Steering Group for the development of the new application and action plan. The project is managed by the EDI Unit. Three Working Groups were established to support the development of the application in the below key areas (click into the below headings to see working group memberships and the topics covered.) The role of the working groups was to review the data, carry out data analysis, both qualitative and quantitative, carry out a consultation process with all employees to develop SMART actions as part of the new Gender Equality Action Plan. 

Working Group Membership:

Elaine Hassett (Co-Chair)

Dr Simon Kelly (Co-Chair)

Dr Marie-Luce Paris

Prof Denis Shields

Associate Prof Emma Sokell

Aisling Croke

Marcellina Fogarty

Thomas Costelloe

Admin Support: Licia Carlesi

Key Areas:

a) Induction

b) Recruitment

c) Promotion

Working Group Membership:

Claire O'Malley (Co-Chair)

Dr Gavin Stewart (Co-Chair)

Prof Kathleen James-Chakraborty

Associate Prof Aoife Gowen

Prof Hugh Campbell

Marcellina Fogarty

Thomas Costelloe

Admin Support: Licia Carlesi

Key Areas:

a) Training

b) Appraisal/Development Review

c) Support given to academic staff for career progression

d) Cover and support for maternity/adoptive leave before/during/after returning to work

e) Maternity return rate

f) Paternity, Adoption, Parental Leave uptake

g) Flexible working

h) Transition of part-time to full-time after career break 

i) Childcare

j) Caring responsibilities 

Working Group Membership:

Mark Simpson (Co-Chair)

Judy Walsh (Co-Chair)

Melissa Plunkett

Chiara Zaccheo

Gerry Looby

Maurice Knightly

Orla Barry

Marcellina Fogarty

Thomas Costelloe

Admin Support: Licia Carlesi

Key Areas:

a) Culture

b) HR Policies

c) Proportion of Heads of Schools/Faculty/Department by gender

d) Representation of men and women on senior management committees

e) Representation of men and women on institution influential committees

f) Committee workload

g) Institutional policies, practices and procedures

h) Workload model

i) Timing of Institution meetings and social gatherings

j) Visibility of role models

k) Outreach activities

l) Leadership

m) Gender Identity and Expression - current policy and practice, monitoring of further work

Gender Equality Action Plan 2020-2024 Consultation Process

As the initial phase of consultation process, a survey was carried out in May 2019. Following outputs of the survey, focus groups were held to gain insights from employees across a range of topics that will feed into the Athena SWAN application. The final part of the consultation process was the Athena SWAN World Café held on 7 October 2019.

Athena SWAN World Café: Re-framing the Conversation - Leading Culture Change with Dr Rhona Mahony

As part of the development of the next Gender Equality Action Plan, the Athena SWAN event was held on Monday 7 October 2019. UCD had the pleasure of welcoming Dr Rhona Mahony who spoke about women in leadership. Rhona gave an inspirational talk on ensuring people are included, feel safe, feel that they belong and that their contribution matters. The talk was followed by the Athena SWAN World Café attended by over 80 people from the UCD community. Thank you to everyone who participated - the excellent feedback will support the development of UCD’s Gender Equality Action Plan 2020-2024. 

Photo of speaker and organisers

From left to right: Eimear O'Reilly, EDI Project Officer, Rory Carey, Director of Culture & Engagement, Dr Rhona Mahony, Professor Orla Feely, Vice-President for Research, Innovation and Impact and Marcellina Fogarty, EDI Manager

participants at round tables

Participants listen to Dr Rhona Mahony's inspirational talk on women in leadership at the UCD Athena SWAN event on 7 October 2019

Focus Groups

The three focus groups were the second stage of the consultation process. Each Athena SWAN working group identified themes and/or gaps emerging from the initial data analysis and held a focus group to delve deeper into a selection of topics (see above for key areas of each working group.)

Focus Groups took place on the below dates:

  • Focus Group 1 (Key Career Transition Points) - Tuesday 3 September 2019
  • Focus Group 2 (Closed) (Career Development / Leave / Flexible Working) - Thursday 29 August 2019
  • Focus Group 3 (Organisation & Culture / Gender Identity) - Friday 6 September 2019

Athena SWAN Survey

UCD carried out the Athena SWAN survey aimed at all UCD employees in May 2019. The survey had a response rate of 30% and the outputs formed the basis of the focus groups questions.

Contact UCD Equality Diversity and Inclusion

University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland.
T: +353 1 716 4933 | E: edi@ucd.ie